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Geopolitics

Realpolitik Returns: Western Leaders Turn Cold On Arab Spring

Analysis: Western euphoria about the popular uprisings in the Arab world is dissipating – and being replaced by fatalism. The Western powers clearly have no master plan to take the reins of the situation, and in the end, Iran may end up benefiting the mos

Protestors in Tahir, Egypt (Jan. 30, 2011)
Protestors in Tahir, Egypt (Jan. 30, 2011)
Richard Herzinger

BERLIN - At the height of the giddiness over the fall of the Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt, leading German politicians were putting themselves through the wringer. Too long had the West dealt with Arab despots based on the false assumption that only they could guarantee "stability" in the explosive Middle East. From now on, support of human rights and democracy had to form the basis of a values-oriented foreign policy.

Only a few months later, these views, at least as far as government parties are concerned, appear to have been erased from memory. It's as if this spring's revolutions, which didn't shake up just the Arab world, had never taken place. Now, it's all about the controversial planned sales of tanks by Germany to Saudi Arabia. That golden oldie, "realpolitik," is back. Of course, "human rights considerations must play a role, but international security interests take priority," says German Minister of Defense Thomas de Maizière, adding that Saudi Arabia is "one of the most important anchors of stability in the region."

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War In Ukraine, Day 85: Russia’s "Smaller" Operations And Shrinking Ambitions

U.S. Department of Defense officials report that instead of the typical battalion tactical groups in Ukraine, which number several hundred soldiers, the Russians have now shifted to attacks by smaller units.

Ukrainian soldiers in Donbas

Meike Eijsberg, Cameron Manley and Emma Albright

A new Pentagon report has found that Russia is continuing to reduce the scale of its military actions toward more "small" operations, which is another sign that it has lowered the ambitions of its invasion of Ukraine.

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The Washington Post, citing a U.S. Department of Defense official, reports that instead of the typical battalion tactical groups, which number several hundred soldiers, the Russians have now shifted to attacks by smaller units, each ranging from a few dozen to a hundred soldiers. These smaller units have also scaled down their objectives and are targeting towns, villages and crossroads.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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